Safaricom launches new technology to improve coverage in urban centers

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A Safaricom attendant tends to a customer.
A Safaricom attendant tends to a customer. PHOTO/COURTESY:

Safaricom on Wednesday began testing a state of the art network coverage technology aimed at improving coverage in congested urban areas.

The new technology solutions christened TubeStar Base Stations will incorporate all necessary equipment within the network tower structure therefore eliminating the need for a compound and perimeter wall.

As such the technology will make it convenient for such stations to be erected in urban areas which have limited available space. Safaricom has in the past experienced difficulties when erecting coverage tower structures in crowded urban centers but according to Mr. Thibaud Rerolle; the Chief Technology Officer at Safaricom, the TubeStar technology will change all that.

“Over the last 18 years, Safaricom has established itself as a global innovation leader through constant and deliberate investment in innovative and ground-breaking technologies. Ultimately, our goal has been to provide our customers with world-class connectivity and networks,” Mr. Rerolle said in a statement.

“The TubeStar base station is the latest such innovation and will enable us meet the emerging demands of Kenya’s fast paced urban environments.”

The TubeStar technology is also expected to be more eco-friendly since it is powered by high performing lithium batteries which will eliminate the need of using diesel generators to power the towers.

The first TubeStar has been deployed at Clay Works along the Nairobi – Thika Highway and will offer coverage along the Roysambu drift which has long been plagued by call drops. The location exemplifies challenges of providing coverage in urban areas as it is a depression where signals from surrounding base stations converge, resulting in interference and poor connectivity.

The new base station will exclusively provide coverage in the affected locality eliminating reliance on the other cells in the area.

The announcement comes just a day after the telecommunication giant launched an interactive artificial intelligence (AI) customer care service that will help customers manage subscription services.

In the last three years to March 2018, Safaricom has invested more than KES 100 billion in upgrading and maintaining its network and plans to spend up to KES 38 billion in the current year to March 2019. Among enhancements it has rolled out in the previous year were East Africa’s first 4G+ network, 4G coverage to all 47 counties, and M-PESA upgrades to a new platform.

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